The Manichaean Shrine

karuzutashrineIt is our human nature to keep precious things in a safe place when we have them. We can tell ourselves what are the most important objects we own by examining where and how we keep them and how we take care of them. For a Manichaean, an image or an artistic depiction of Mir Izgadda or the various religious symbols are important objects which enhance our faith and remembrance of the blessed teachings.

The time and effort required to keep a shrine or home altar clean and replenished with flowers and other offerings is considered a skilful activity to focus one’s mind in the spiritual practices of our faith and customs. It will be more than interesting if we can realize the reason why we arrange and keep our things around the house reflect our state of minds.

It appears that things can and have meanings as much as our minds can project upon them. We are not going to tell our children that their toys are not real and have no significance. Your fifteen year old car may seem unreal when you see your friend’s new sports car.

When you stand before the shrine, people can see your heart-felt devotion or lack of it, because is expressed through your body language. Just as all objects have some kind of power or influence to our minds, the serene image of Mir Izgadda or of one of the saints and nicely arranged flowers and aromatic incense cause our minds to reflect within ourselves in the deep meditative concentration. The positive impact of seeing a sacred image on our minds cannot be underestimated. The sacred images are purposely consecrated and blessed to radiate the spiritual power and blessings so that whoever happens to see them experiences the positive feeling through the medium of the statue or painting.

As long as our minds are dependent upon sensory objects, it is important to have appropriate objects conducive to our minds. Maninaye always find it inspiring and motivating to see an image depicting Mir Izgadda, which helps them to remember the qualities of the Lord and His teachings or remind them of the compassion of the blessed saints. Maninaye show devotion by bowing down, offering flowers and lighting a candle or two before sitting down to meditate.

Bowing down purifies pride and cultivates humility. One cannot meditate properly if one cannot let go of such negativities. The shrine enables us to remind ourselves to surrender all the negativities in order to feel peace, serenity, tranquility, freedom and light. Keeping the shrine clean represents the sanctification of our spiritual self and acknowledges the purity of a wise person.

In some homes, many water bowls are arranged on the altar to cultivate its many qualities, fluidity, continuity, universality and purity in our practice and faith. Flowers, candles, fruits and incense are brought as offerings and they give us an opportunity to practice generosity and test our understanding of the Three Pillars of our Blessed Faith – Scripture, Tradition and Revelation.

When you come to attend service at your shrine or home altar, rearrange the offerings on the altar, clean the water bowls and fill them with fresh water starting from right to left, remove withered flowers and old fruits and light a candle before you take a seat. Before removing any object from the altar, say audibly or in your mind, “Blessed is the Presence of the Lord in this place.” You will be surprised with the difference it makes to your meditation and service. While you are doing these, you can pray in the following manner:

May I and others cultivate pure and continuous faith in our spiritual practices.

May my heart blossom with the gift of love and compassion so that I can share it with others and grace them with happiness.

May all the negativity accumulated due to my selfishness, ignorance, greed and hatred be purified by the aroma of the practice of morality.

May the light of understanding, faith, awareness and wisdom illuminate the darkness of confusion, mistrust and all defilements.

May the aroma of unshakable faith and confidence have the ability to please anybody who come in contact with me.

May I be able to share the Message of Light with all persons I meet.

Now, you can practice this the next time when you go to the shrine, or you can perhaps rearrange the images and symbols in your home to enrich the spiritual awareness in your house.

Adapted by Jon Ming,
Elder and historian for the Religion of Light,
currently residing in Beijing, China.

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